When an incident as horrific as rape occurs in this country, whether justice will be served or not is anybody's guess. But there's one thing you can rely on unfailingly — for some Indian politicians or government representatives to say something utterly shameful and make things worse. Our most recent shining example comes in the form of former Gujarat policeman DG Vanzara, who thought it prudent to defend convicted rapist Asaram Babu. Insisting that the survivor hadn't been raped, he tried to paint the issue with a communal angle. "Asaram has been framed. A campaign was carried out against Bapuji to bring disrepute to saints and Sanatan Dharma."
It's a relief that Vanzara hasn't announced his candidacy in an election yet, but as history proves, many Indian politicians are firmly entrenched in the dark ages. Warning: The contents of this story may cause jaw tightening, intense eye-rolling and an uncontrollable urge to scream at the screen. Caution is advised.
The incident: Mass molestation on New Year’s Eve in Bengaluru, 2016
New Year’s Eve celebrations took a nasty turn when women were groped and molested despite police assurance that their forces would be patrolling the streets to ensure safety.
The questionable quote: “The more nudity, the more a girl is considered fashionable. Ants will swarm the place where sugar is.”
Abu Azmi, Samajwadi Party leader
Why it’s twisted: This man clearly doesn’t understand women, fashion and basic human decency. Clothes are not the problem, the mindset is and placing the blame on what a woman is wearing only promotes the mentality that men are helpless victims of short hemlines and sleeveless T-shirts.
The incident: Kanker rape case
Minors residing in a school for tribal girls in Jhaliyamari village of Kanker district were allegedly raped by a teacher and the school watchmen. The man hired to protect the school and a man hired to educate the underage girls were the confirmed assaulters.
The quote: "Harm can come on a person if the stars are in adverse positions...We have no answer to this, only an astrologer can predict."
Nanki Ram Kanwar, Chhattisgarh Home Minister
Why it’s twisted: Uhm... This is the rape of two minor girls by their caregivers. NOT a trivial horoscope column letting you know Mercury is in retrograde. Let’s deal with the here and now by taking action, shall we? The stars are in the heavens, a place these two men will surely never see.
The incident: Gang rape at Shakti Mills, Mumbai
A 22-year-old photojournalist working in Mumbai was gang-raped by five people at the Shakti Mills compound, where she had gone on assignment with a male colleague. The accused rapists tied her colleague while they abused her and threatened her by holding a broken beer bottle to her neck. A similar incident happened to a 19-year-old when she was at the same compound; three of the five accusers were repeat offenders and received the death penalty.
The quote: "Boys and girls... later they had differences, and the girl went and gave a statement that I have been raped. And then the poor fellows, three of them have been sentenced to death. Should rape cases lead to hanging? Boys are boys, they make mistakes. Two or three have been given the death sentence in Mumbai. We will try and change such laws...we will also ensure punishment of those who report false cases."
Mulayam Singh Yadav, former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
Why this is twisted: Where do we start...
The incident: Two teenage girls were gang-raped and then hung from a tree
Two cousins, aged 14 and 15, went missing after they went to use the toilet in their village. The girls were gang-raped by five men from their village and then hung, left to die.
The quote: “Vulgarity, obscenity and violence shown on TV channels. In many places, when the relationship between girls and boys comes out in open, it is termed as rape. Uttar Pradesh is being deliberately targeted. Such incidents are happening everywhere.”
Ram Gopal Yadav, Samajwadi Party leader and Mulayam Singh Yadav's brother
Why it’s twisted: This isn’t a teenager imitating a rap video, this is five grown men raping two children from their own village. And just because rape happens everywhere doesn’t exempt your state from being held accountable.
The incident: A series of 19 rapes were reported within 30 days in Haryana
19 rapes in 30 days. How did Haryana's leader's approach the problem epidemic travesty? They launched a study to try and figure out why the men were raping. Here are their "findings".
The quote: "Chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance, evoking an urge to indulge in acts such as rape and sex. You also know the impact of chowmein, which is a spicy food, on our body. Hence, our elders too advised to eat light and nutritious food."
Thua khap panchayat leader Jitender Chhatar
Why it's twisted: No this isn't a "tip" from a nutrition blog offering you advice on how to achieve clear skin. It's a rape. 19 of them, to be precise. You cannot dismiss them like a breakout caused by consuming junk food. It's an insult to the women raped. It's an insult to science. It's an insult to the intelligence of everybody to exist, ever.
The incident: Nirbhaya rape case
A 23-year-old medical student and her boyfriend boarded a bus in a densely populated area of New Delhi on a Sunday evening. The male passengers of the bus started to sexually abuse the woman and when her boyfriend fought back, they beat him mercilessly. The depraved perpetrators proceeded to gang-rape the girl, even torturing her with an iron rod. Once they were done, they threw her and her boyfriend off the bus. The victim was gravely injured and didn’t survive the ordeal.
Quote #1: “Such crimes hardly take place in Bharat, but they occur frequently in India. Go to villages, no gang rapes or sex crimes there, they are prevalent in urban areas.”
Mohan Bhagwat, RSS chief
Why it’s twisted: Firstly, Bharat and India are the same, last time we checked. Secondly, the largest number of rape cases happens in villages, unfortunately, they aren’t reported as much. This statement is meant to imply that 'western culture' is responsible for these disgusting occurrences. The fact of the matter is that it happened here, on Indian soil.
Sadly, there are more.
Quote #2: "One small incident of rape in Delhi advertised world over is enough to cost us billions of dollars in terms of global tourism."
Arun Jaitley, current Finance Minister of India
Why it’s twisted: No incident of rape is small. Not. A. Single. One. But especially not one where the victim is tortured and dies, and the person who attempted to protect her also had to fight for his life in hospital. Capitalism can’t take precedence over basic humanity.
Quote #3: "This is a social crime which depends on men and women. Sometimes it's right, sometimes it's wrong... Until there's a complaint, nothing can happen."
Babulal Gaur Yadav, former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
Why it’s twisted: Yes, it depends on men and women, in the sense that if the woman is the rapist, she too should be condemned. But in this case, she wasn’t the rapist. She was the victim. It is never right and always wrong.
This next man on our list isn't a politician, but was, until recently, a man with considerable power. He currently stands accused and convicted of rape, but had already achieved notoriety for sharing his less-than-poignant opinions on the matter.
Quote #4: “The five or six drunken men were not the only ones guilty. The girl was also responsible…”
He’s not done:
"Had she recited the Saraswati mantra, she would not have boarded any bus after watching a movie with her boyfriend."
Wait, he has a point to make, we think, somewhere:
“She should have called the culprits 'brothers' and begged before them to stop. This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don’t think so,”
Asaram Bapu, self-styled godman/ rapist
Do we need to explain why it’s twisted? No, we don’t. But we’ll do it anyway.
Why it’s twisted: Firstly yes, the men who brutalised and murdered a young girl are the only ones guilty of the crime. Saraswati mantra or otherwise, the girl would have still probably got on the bus. The bus was also not guilty. No, the conventional societal role of a brother is considered one of protection; these men didn’t mean to protect her. They meant to harm her. Not raping and abusing her, is what would have saved her life and “saved her dignity”.